It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Old age ain't no place for sissies," Bette Davis is said to have said, and the longer age lasts, the less of a sissy you can be. The opening shot of Michael Haneke's "Amour" shows firemen breaking into an elegant apartment in Paris. We know nothing about who lives here, and are told nothing — except in pantomime, as one fireman holds his nose. In a bedroom, the body of an old woman is found in bed, surrounded by desiccated flowers.
That's what it comes down to, finally, the mortal remains and the faded memories of beauty. But this is true only for outsiders, for the dead, for the firemen. For the living, it's wonderful to be a member of the audience. Another of this film's very early shots is from a point of view on a stage, regarding the audience at a piano recital. We never see the stage. The subject is the act of watching. The music is passionate, the audience appreciative, and its members seem to know why it is fine and why they like it. They have earned in a lifetime the privilege of being in this audience.
What alchemy drew my eyes to one particular old couple in the audience? A director can stage a shot to force us how to look at it, but Haneke here is deliberately objective. Still, I noticed these two. They are played by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, both now in their 80s, and although they've been giants of the French cinema for decades, I can't say that I recognized them at this age. What must have drawn me were certain qualities: their self-possession, their inner peace, a sense that they had earned the right to be together.
They are Anne and Georges. We learn they've spend their lives performing and teaching music. Later we will learn that the concert is being performed by a young master (Alexandre Tharaud) who was Anne's pupil. In a sense, they have brought forth this beauty into their own lives.